Cody Kessler threw for a career-high 344 yards and four touchdowns as No. 25 USC (10-4) defeated No. 20 Fresno State (11-2), 45-20, in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday.
It was USC’s first bowl win since 2009. The Trojans also grabbed their first 10-win season since 2011.
All of Kessler’s touchdowns came in the first half as the Trojans jumped out to a 35-6 lead. Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee each scored twice, with Lee notching a season-high 118 receiving yards on seven catches.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr came into the game leading the nation in total offense at 415 yards per game, but USC held him to just 217 passing yards on 29 of 54 passing. Carr did throw two touchdown passes to become the fourth player in NCAA history to top 5,000 yards and 50 touchdown passes in a season.
The Trojans dominated the stat sheet, holding the ball for over 41 minutes and piling up 499 yards to FSU’s 254.
It was a disappointing ending to a once-promising season for the Bulldogs. After starting out 10-0 to move into contention for a BCS bowl bid, FSU dropped two of its last three. Still, the 11-2 record was the best season by the Bulldogs since 1989.
As for USC, it was a fine ending to a tumultuous season. Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton all coached the Trojans to wins and now Steve Sarkisian takes over as the new head man.
If Sarkisian is going to last longer than Kiffin, he better hope he’s not back in the Vegas bowl any time soon.
ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton provided a massive public service through his Twitter account on Tuesday, releasing a data dump of fascinating information about the signing class of 2016.
In short, Texas was the most popular breeding ground for FBS prospects, but half of all signees came from a clean sweep from Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and up to North Carolina.
The Lone Star State produced 359 players, with nearly half of those heading to Power 5 institutions. In fact, Hamilton reports, 72 of 128 FBS programs and 38 of 64 Power 5’s signed at least one player from Texas.
Florida trailed with 327 players, followed by California with 248 players and Georgia with 225. For what it’s worth, Ohio was not included in the study.
Data dump, begin!
The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).
Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.
The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.
The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.
View the full AAC slate here:
Just like we all thought when watching him play at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees will be in the NFL in 2016. Just not as a quarterback.
The San Diego Chargers announced his hiring as an obnoxiously vague offensive assistant, assisting with the club’s offense in some form that they aren’t inclined to elaborate on.
After completing a career in which he threw for 7,670 yards with 61 touchdowns against 37 interceptions from 2010-13, Rees was cut by the Washington Redskins in 2014, then spent the 2014-15 seasons as a graduate assistant at Northwestern.
The post-National Signing Day coaching carousel is now in full tilt.
According to a report from Adam Caplan of ESPN, Wisconsin defensive backs coach Daronte Jones is leaving to become the assistant defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins.
The Badgers already endured a significant loss this winter after defensive coordinator Dave Aranda took a lateral position with LSU. He was replaced in January by former USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Jones spent but 13 months in Madison, a January 2015 addition to Paul Chryst‘s first staff after spending three seasons at Hawaii.
Wisconsin possessed one of college football’s top pass defenses in 2015; the Badgers ranked seventh nationally in pass defense, tied for sixth in yards per attempt allowed, placed third in opponent completion percentage and finished second in pass efficiency defense.